More Dopey reflections

A week ago I ran, well walked mostly, a marathon. Hm. Doesn’t seem real at all. In fact, the idea that I completed the Dopey Challenge seems utterly bizzare. Me?! I can’t run! I can’t do that. But I did and here’s the proof:

Dopey cert JG

So if it feels like I am milking this a bit – I am  – but this is a huge deal. I went from not being able to run 100metres without hyperventilating and being in pain after to running 48.6 miles in 4 days in just about 12 months. I think I have earned the right to go on about it a bit. I’d also like to say thank you so much to all those of you who supported me through the running and who sponsored us. Our sponsorship page is still open if anyone would like to acknowledge our achievement and support Panthera. Thank you!

So, a week on and any muscle soreness (not that there was that much) has gone and my mega blister on my little toe has settled down; I am back home, it’s been snowing and tomorrow I go back to work. With a little bit of distance, here’s what I think and feel about the Dopey Challenge and what I learned.

  1. I ran a marathon! Well I walked a marathon mostly but I completed it within pacing requirements  – less than 16 minutes per mile – just.
  2. Conditions matter, they really matter. I knew it could well be hot and humid for the running but that still didn’t prepare me for how the humidity would impact on me. Heat on its own isn’t as bad but humidity even when it isn’t that warm is just something else. I couldn’t breathe
  3. The support from the crowds and from people supporting on facebook or by text messages etc make a huge difference and can be the difference between managing another little jog and giving up. Thank you to all those people who shouted encouragement along the routes
  4. I can walk pretty fast for a very long time
  5. I really would like to have run much more than I did in the marathon
  6. Half marathon is a good distance – it’s a real challenge and it comes with bragging rights but it’s not so bloody endless. I’d like to do a couple more half marathons
  7. Star Wars music is just the best for crossing a finish line.
  8. I don’t think I could do a marathon somewhere where there is nothing of interest to me to see. I had my major wobbles and nearly giving up points along long stretches of road where there was just nothingness. The theme parks saved me because they broke it up and gave me stuff to look at. So I could probably run something like Berlin, Hamburg or of course London because there are places there of historical or personal significance that I can focus on
  9. I have to remind myself that doing the Dopey is a big deal  – I struggle with that. I did it, therefore it can’t be that big a deal.
  10. However tired you are and however impossible it seems, it is always possible to run the finishing stretch and cross the line running. Always.
  11. Usually when I know I am not going to be good at something I just don’t do it or I find an excuse to give up early… not this time. It never crossed my mind to actually stop. Not once. I struggled badly from mile 5 of the 26.2. I thought I might not be able to complete the marathon and I was almost sure I wouldn’t make Dopey pace but I never thought I might actually stop. I thought I might be swept or possibly even taken off the course by medics if things got really bad but it never occured to me to actually stop.
  12. Every now and again I giggle to myself because I did it! I’m proper Dopey
  13. I haven’t run since Dopey but I did do a lot of walking in the theme parks and my next training plan starts with a 45 minute run on Tuesday – very possibly in the snow.
  14. I feel oddly calm about everything. Running the marathon after having run the 5k, 1ok and half marathon on the preceeding 3 days was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Physically that’s obvious but mentally too. It’s all fine – you just have to breathe through it.
  15. Running long distance takes you through all sorts of emotions – mostly for the marathon there was a mixture of self-doubt and determination with splashes of total desperation and despair and sprinkles of excitement and elation. I was sobbing from the minute I crossed the finish line and I had to hold my breath for the finisher photo to get myself under control. I wasn’t excited to cross the finish line, I was relieved! Being excited came later.
  16. I’m looking forward to running again

And there we have it – it was all a pretty amazing experience – from day 1 at the expo picking up our race packs with all the shirts and the bib numbers etc to day 5 – the marathon. The early starts somehow add to the occassion and the events are so massive that it is hard not to get caught up on the occassion. I won’t promise that this will be my last Dopey post – in fact it won’t be because there are photos to sort through yet and I wanted to tell you about the race retreat and the runners world challenge package etc but for now I’ll leave you with this – hower unlikely that seems to me :


Final Push

We went for a short run this morning. Temperatures have dropped a bit and it felt cold. We both struggled a little. Kath was really struggling to breathe in the cold air and I wore some trainers that I bought ages and ages go and hadn’t worn to run in yet. I think I picked them up cheap and I don’t think they’re right. My feet were aching a mile in. It might all just be taper paranoia though.

One more training run left. Just one more and then we travel and then the big event is here. The countdown says 5 days – that’s to the Expo at the start of the Disney event. I can’t decide if I am excited or terrified today.

We’re really not far off our fundraising target overall although it would be lovely to get a bit closer to it online! Can you help? Can you make the hours on the road, the sore muscles and the chafing in places best not mentioned all even more worthwhile?  If you can help, our justgiving page is here. Thank you.

As a reminder of what this is all about – we are running for Panthera, a conservation charity focusing on the Big Cats. They do great work and you can read all about it on their website and follow them on twitter (@pantheracats) and facebook.

Thank you to all those of you who have already sponsored us – you are brilliant and you help ensure  a future for gorgeous creatures like this:

Lion cub Panthera
Picture from Panthera


13 days to go to the big Walt Dinsey World Marathon Weekend kicks off with the expo, 17 to go to the marathon. I sort of feel ready and sort of totally not.

In case you haven’t sponsored us yet – you can do so here and help us support the brilliant conservation work Panthera do.

For the first 3 days of tapering we might have taken the ‘take it easy and rest’ theme a bit too seriously on the running front. We did bugger all. Having said that though the weather was nasty and we were pre-occupied with a dog attack on one of our sheep and nursing the poor little thing back to health (more on that over on the sheep blog).

Yesterday we finally got out for a 45 minute run and it felt great to be out. It was a sunny day  – far too warm for December – about 12 degrees C. We set off down our road to the canal and turned left towards Bingley. We turned round after roughly 25 minutes and headed back. We ran all the way, no walk breaks. Didn’t feel like I needed any. When we finished I was surpirsed to see we’d run exactly  4 miles. I think we’ve only ever managed that pace on a 45 minute run once before. Now I did feel like I was pushing a little bit but I honestly thought it was just one too many mince pies and not nearly enough water that were making it all feel like hard work. It didn’t feel that fast.

I had a good dy yesterday. I felt almost well. My brain felt like it might just work normally. I felt good after the run. It felt like a normal day. I struggled later in the day when I got really tired after we’d walked round the neighbourhood dropping off mince pies at our mothers’ and the last of the Christmas presents but yesterday was a good day!

Look, no walking

Ok, I don’t know how to ask you all to sponsor us for this run without hassling, without it sounding really naff or annoying or whatever. Please please please just do it if you are able to. We are over half way if we count money pledged off line. No amount is too small and you wouldn’t believe the boost it gives my runs to see the total creep up. So click the link if you can, do it now. Thanks you

Our Just Giving Page

So today has been a good running day. I ran 6 miles without stopping to walk. Yep. I sort of wondered if I could. I headed out on my own, downhill for the first stretch. I did have to stop abruptly because I was suddenly faced with an alsatian not attached to a human and it came bounding up to me, circled me and then jumped up – paws on shoulders. I don’t know how I didn’t curl up in a ball and scream. Turns out its human was trying to catch it – wasn’t going well then… I also had to stop briefly twice to let cars go before I could cross the road (rude, don’t they know how hard it is to get going again). I was pretty happy until 3.5 miles and then I suddenly thought I may have been a bit ambitious. I thought I might as well keep going to 4 miles though. 4 miles seemed a bit of a silly distance to stop at though and I wasn’t anywhere sensible to come off the canal to head home so I kept going. I had to keep telling myself that one I got to 5 miles I could stop. 5 miles is respectable. I got to 5 miles and decided that I could probably run for another 12 minutes and therefore get to 6 miles – so I did.

My ‘I just ran 6 mile and there’s something distracting to my left’ face

Then I walked the 2.5 mile loop from where I was to feed sheep and get home.

In other news – the official race guide for the marathon has been released, I have printed it and the waiver forms. I got stupidly excited about being in corrall J and I have done 2 lots of yoga and 80 squats today. More on the race guide etc next time. It’s well passed my bedtime!

The reason for my marathon madness

I am bored silly today. I thought I’d be back at work and I was looking forward to teaching but I had a really high temperature over night and my cough has got worse. I’ve felt exhausted today and have dozed on and off but now I am awake and bored. I’ve been thinking about all sorts of stuff and drifting in and out of sleep and it occured to me that I haven’t shared much of the reason we signed up for the marathon. Well I guess there were the personal reasons  – better fitness and health, shifting some weight, the challenge of doing something I was pretty sure I couldn’t do… but there is also the wanting to make  a bit of a difference to the world we live in and raise some money for our chosen charity Panthera.

I do get the irony of going to Disney for a race to raise money for Panthera. The trip is costing us more money than we will raise and there is an argument for saying we should perhaps just given Panthera that money and be done with it but I am sort of hoping that we will raise a good chunk of money for them and also raise awareness of their work. Maybe our running adventure won’t be the last time you support them (Thanks to those of you who have already sponsored me by the way. It really helps!).

So before I forget – you can donate on our justgiving page but you can also donate direct on the Panthera website from where you can also send stunning e-cards  – which are I admit a little expensive but, I think, worth it. They also have an online store but I see that is currently closed.

So what’s your favourite big cat? That question has occupied my flu addled brain today. Lots of people say Lion. Well it it is lions for you, there’s lots on the Panthera site. There are fewer than 30000 lions left. Their number has reduced dramatically and just don’t exisit anymore in 80% of the places they used to roam. Panthera are helping by engaging local communities to better manage their relationships with the lions and reduce conflict. Have a look at Project Leonardo on their website for more

I’m a cat person. I like all cats, including big ones. It’s hard to pick a favourite. I do think snow leopards are stunning and I like the fact that we don’t know that much about them, that they are still so mysterious. They are also under threat. Panthera says that it is thought that only 4000-7000 may remain in the wild. That’s heartbreaking. Panthera are helping through scientific studies that can inform and underpin policy and by working with governments in the snow leopard countries. Again check out the website for more.

I do think my favourite big cat though is the cougar. Why? Maybe because I have seen one. Years ago I went on a trip to Houston, Texas and stayed with friends. They took me on a weekend trip into the depths of southern Texas and I woke up early, looked out of the window of the static caravan thing and there she was – maybe 50-60 metres away just minding her own business. By the time I’d got my camera she was gone but we did later see her tracks. I’d hate to imagine a world where my memory is of a species that doesn’t exist anymore!

There are several projects explained on the panthera website and there are links to the scientific papers underpinning some of them and if that’s not your thing there are also lots of pictures of gorgeous cats! You don’t need youtube for your kitten fix!

So, I will drag my butt round a stupid amount of miles for the rest of this year and come January for the big event. If you can help support us in that running mission whether by donating or sharing our story and encouraging others to sponsor us or donate directly then please do. Donations made to Panthera are channelled straight into the programmes rather than the running of the charity so they really do make an enourmous difference! THANK YOU